Expert Review: Nordica Santa ANA Free 104 Women's Skis · 2022Published on 10/15/2022 · 4 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the skis, which I purchased with my own money in February of 2022.
Photo by Maddi Kesten
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the skis, which I purchased with my own money in February of 2022.
The Nordica Santa ANA Free 104 Women's Skis are incredible skis for women looking to explore the entire mountain with unparalleled stability and a playful edge.
About the skis I own
- Model: 2022 Santa Ana FREE 104
- Size: 170cm
- Height: 5’9”
- Weight: 153 lbs
- Experience: Nine years of skiing
- When I bought these: February 2022
- Days tested: Seven
- Mount position: One inch forward
- Boots: 2021 Tecnica Cochise 95W
- Boot Size: 25.5
- Bindings: 2022 Marker F10 Tour
- Where I’ve used it: Killington Mountain Resort, Okemo Mountain Resort, VT
- Terrain: Groomers, trees, off-piste
How it performs
What I was looking for
When I purchased the Santa Ana Frees, I was beginning my very first touring setup and wanted to find something that would provide durable charge through deep snow, with pop and flexibility on groomed areas as well. I have a pretty condensed quiver, with my only other skis being K2 Remedy 92s intended for East Coast conditions of the icier and rockier variety. So I knew this new setup would be intended for more intense endeavors.
Why I chose this gear
I chose the Santa Ana Frees because, when shopping for my K2s, I was actually looking into the original Santa Anas as well. But I decided against them because they were too heavy for what I was looking for. When I heard that they’d been re-invented in a lighter, poppier design, I knew it was a sign that I should check them out. Right before buying, I was in between the Santa Ana Frees, K2 Mindbenders, and Armada Trace 98s. Ultimately, the biggest factors that played into my decision were the price point, the weight of the ski, and honestly, the beautiful topsheet.
What I love about it
- Speed: I loved the stability in this ski. There was very minimal chatter at higher speeds without compromising durability and playfulness at slower speeds.
- Edge hold: It was very easy to maintain an edge on these skis throughout my turns.
- Groomers: This is an ideal all-mountain ski. The build of these skis allows for responsive delivery on groomers, while still being floaty for powder. They’re mainly marketed as a powder ski. And due to their width, they may not perform on the hardest, iciest groomer terrain; this is where one might benefit more from a thinner ski.
- Powder: One of my favorite parts of this ski is the fact that it provides adequate float while still enforcing a powerful charge through powder.
- Trees: These performed well in powdery tree territory. However, it’s important to note that due to their width, narrower and quicker turns may prove more difficult.
- Backcountry: These are truly the epitome of an all-mountain ski, and that absolutely includes the ungroomed territories. This is primarily my backcountry touring ski. It’s lightweight enough that I don’t feel exhausted going uphill, but also stable enough that I don’t worry about it not providing adequate support and climb.
- Durability: Over the seven days I used these thus far, I’ve only noticed some very minor signs of wear on the sidewalls of the ski. The topsheet is looking just like it did when I got them. Okemo was pretty rocky when I used them there, so the fact that I didn’t notice any major scratches or damage to the base was immensely reassuring.
- Weight: Extremely lightweight for such a wide ski, which ensures that I won’t be exhausted while touring and turning all day. This is crucial, as I spend the entire day out there whenever I go. If my legs are burnt out by lunchtime, there’s no way I’m enjoying the rest of my day.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Turns: Since this is a bit of a wider ski, I find that turns on groomers demand a little more force with the turning foot and require a bit of a wider turn in general.
Favorite moment with this gear
I was honestly terrified during my first time touring. I had no experience yet, and was unfamiliar with what on earth I was getting myself into. I first brought these to Killington, Vermont, mid-season and was pleasantly surprised by how well they performed across the entire mountain.
Value for the money vs. other options
These are an incredible deal—a real bang-for-your-buck. Especially since they’re last season’s model, one will definitely be happy with them (and so will their bank account). Some comparable options would be the Nordica Santa Ana 100, as they’re a bit of a heavier and stiffer ski, but oriented towards the same all-mountain performance. Additionally, the K2 Mindbender deserves an honorable mention for its versatility and price range. At the time of purchase, the Santa Ana Free’s were a better deal, but as of now the Mindbenders are becoming of an equal or lesser price range depending on the year and model.
All-in-all, a powerful choice for unfazeable women ready to conquer any condition.